HONG KONG (Reuters) – Citigroup Inc Chief Executive Vikram Pandit is making his first visit to Asia since taking the helm, sources with knowledge of the situation said, amid speculation that the biggest U.S. bank could face more mortgage write-downs.
“He was in Beijing and Shanghai on Monday and Tuesday, he’s in Hong Kong today and in Seoul tomorrow,” said one source, who was not authorized to speak to the media about the trip. “He’s here to meet clients.”
Pandit visited Hong Kong a day after Citigroup shares sank to their lowest in more than nine years after a prominent Middle East investor said the bank needed to raise more capital and an analyst projected a $15 billion mortgage write-down.
On Tuesday, a person briefed on the matter told Reuters in New York that Citigroup was comfortable with its capital levels and wasn’t seeking new funds from outside investors.
Asia has been a bright spot for the bank, making a net profit of $4.6 billion last year and enabling Citi to report 2007 global net income of $3.6 billion despite a record $9.83 billion fourth-quarter loss tied mainly to mortgage write-downs.
Since November, Citigroup has raised some $30 billion from investors including Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Singapore and Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
Sameer al-Ansari, the head of Gulf investment agency Dubai International Capital, said on Tuesday Citigroup might need “a lot more money” from investors, after billions of dollars of write-downs tied to subprime mortgages had depleted the bank’s capital.